Product failures are a good thing if you learn from them

I became a developer with no reason at all. When I was young my dreams were different, but when the school decided to not open up the courses for what I was interested in, I had to make a choice.

The IT Field seemed to have the most chances of employment and so, here I am, with over 15 years of experience on a topic that wasn’t my first choice and in which, at least to what I know, I excelled in many things and competences.

We all dream of a job that’s a job we love as much as we dream to be in love with the perfect soulmate.
Thing is, you can find beauty, happiness and rewards in things that were not on your radar.

We mistake the joy for the job with the joy of what our accomplishments can give us, how rewarding they can get.

It’s not the job that makes it fulfilling. It’s the work, it’s the people, the achievements, the results, the parties and the failures.

And failures can be a powerful thing.
Today I read of the rise and fall of Flow, an old asan competitor. It struck a cord with me, it resonated so strongly because, as a dev, product manager of my company, creator of a product, and also business owners, that story is my story.

I see many facets of what’s in the life of a product. The hope to find a niche to which you can connect, the idea that you can do better than the giants.

But a failure should give us the opportunity to ask ourselves “What did I miss?” What didn’t we see? What part of the idea wasn’t working?

Developing a product requires you to be in the midst between optimism and pessimism.
You need to be able to dream big, to have a vision, to imagine a new path and future and at the same time you need to be able to foresee the obstacles, the problems, the things that don’t go well, the many ways in which everything can and will go wrong.

If you are too much on any of those side and you’ll either ignore the warnings or be paralyzed.

the small ones can do wonders

What is the difference between a small or a big brand?
One has less money then the other, one has less people to manage than the other.

Those affirmations are true, but that’s not the end of the list.
While it is undeniable that a bigger brand does have more power, one thing the smaller brands have is the ability to change direction fast, to adjust to the market faster than a bigger brand.

A bigger brand needs time, time to reevaluate, time to pass the information, time to evaluate the implications, time to plan.

A smaller brand and company, on the other side, doesn’t need much to adjust.
This has happened today to me for example. I received a criticism from a customer and I understood how I undervalued one factor.

I could’ve held my position, to save face for example, but how worth it would it be?
Not so much.
Being able to say “I’m sorry, I did something wrong” is something we should value as a society, something we should aim for.
Ego is always near, pushing you back, but it’s our job to protect not our ego, but our values.

These kind of values are even more difficult to express once a company grows so much. That’s why a smaller brand can have such an enormous power, if used well.

They can make a difference, in their own terms.

Proud or comforted

If the people tell us that we’re good at something, that they trust our work, that they are sure we’ll be exceptional our first reactions should be to be proud.

Proud only means we’re hiding the things that scare us. We look away from the darkness.
Being proud of something other people tell us is somewhat a weakness because it doesn’t teach us anything. It leads to thinking we’re perfect and that’s rarely the case.

It’s nice to feel that way, it’s easy to feel that way. It’s a shortcut and an illusion, much like when you start dreaming of what would you if you had 1 million dollar.
If you dream of it, you don’t have it. That sensation is not something that guide you, it hides the reality.

What to do then? Be comforted. Reassured by the people that trust your work you know one great thing: You’re valuable. You can do more than what your fear tells you and, more importantly, people know how much value you give.

Do your work, in your best possible way then, knowing that you can fail but if you do you’ll be comforted by those feelings, not blinded by them.

You can spot marketers, marketers wannabe, and the true one

Today we live in a strange world. Not because of the pandemic, but because of how it affected the way we do marketing.

Well, it wasn’t the pandemic itself. This kind of marketing was there long before it. Pandemic simply amplified it.

If you take a spin at linkedin it’ll be quite easy to spot 3 main kinds of content (excluding the useless).

(1) People who share their product or their work.
This is the first group. They’re individuals or businesses that talks again and again about their business, accomplishments, goals, etc.

You spot them easily because they’re kinda like when you start learning something and, from the outside, it’s clear that you’re still struggling.
It’s wasted time for many people because those shares won’t amplify, won’t work, won’t convert.

Why do it in the first place? Social networks fooled us into thinking that each share is powerful.
It’s not. The content that resonates is powerful. That is the key difference.
It might resonate for good or bad reason, but if you’re looking for results, that is the kind of thing you’re after

(2) People who market their product

Well, here are the marketers “old style”. Blatantly trying to sell you something. A course, a job, you name it.
They cling onto an old behavior which might be obsolete as far as we know.

(3) People that tell a story

Here they are. The real marketers, the makers, people with a spark inside their heart, with a story to tell. A story about their life, their product.

When you read them you are attracted by their words as if they’re a magnet. You understand that they know how to write, how to convey a message and they do their craft wonderfully.

How, what’s the difference? is it the same marketing?

First, that craft didn’t come free. Writing, as with any other craft, is something you need to nurture to be good at.
They wrote, a lot. They surely have learned how to tell a story to the world and they believe it.
They’re not after recognition. They are not ego-guided.

They are sharing their beliefs, knowing these belief won’t be for everyone.

People will disagree, and this is part of their success.
Most of marketing focus on having a broad audience.
They don’t care about it.

They’re fine if you’ll stop reading, they’re fine if you won’t buy their product because they know their path, their value, their struggles.
They told these struggles in a story, crafted through many errors, not a/b testing.
Now they stand out from the crowd, they’re the real ones.

being told and being enabled

My HR reference asked few days ago, “Ok, we gave you this new job title and job plan, but do you need something to do your job? How can we help”.

It clarified something I didn’t think of and it’s linked to the fact that we should strive to do job we’re not 100% perfect for.

Recently I read (I think about Simon Sinek) something along these lines: What’s the use of doing a job if you’re tick all the boxes? You won’t grow, because you’re doing something you’re already capable of.

That middle ground, the space that divide you from the requirements of a new job can be splitted into 2 main categories: Things you should learn, things you should be enabled for.

For the learn part, it’s straightforward, but at the same part it might be linked to the enabling thing. Because the company should give you the tools to reach the plan, the people, the money, the status, the documents, whatever it’s needed to accomplish your job.

Having a job title it’s useless unless we have a plan to grow into it and outgrow it. To do that enablement is something we need. Otherwise we’re still hoping for exceptional people to do an exceptional job, while leaving no trace behind so normal people won’t ever be able to do it.

And if that’s the case, you’re simply doing a job in hero mode without adding value in the long term.

we make our fate

Fate can be challenging. But what’s even more challenging is when we define our fate as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Remember that time when you though “What a bad day, I now only need that X will happen and it’ll be the worst day ever”-

X _can_ happen. And unless you’ve added something quite unreal, is plausible that will happen.
That’s because you already know the odds and chances are we’re way above 40% chances of X happening.

What’s really happening here is that you are negatively reinforcing your expectation, and this will make the amount of sadness and overall mistrust way higher than usual.

You’re reinforcing a bad habit, a bad emotion, and overall, you want to play the victim.

“No I don’t do that often” might be a reply to this critic, but you know what? The thing is that you don’t do the opposite. If X doesn’t happen you don’t distrust everything you said. You simply consider it “at the last status”, so you maintain that overall sadness without amplifying it, which is quite different than going the opposite direction.

That’s the problem. We help too much the negative actions and emotions, and we do nothing for the positive ones unless they are casted upon us.
Yet, we have the chance to choose what to empower each and every day

That choice counts, a lot. Not only for us, but for the people around us.

the beauty of life is hidden in the quiet moments

We are always searching for happiness, but if we were to define happiness it would be quite hard.

Is it when you’re laughing? Is it when you’re smiling? Is it when you’re more than satisfied?

There’s no good or bad answer. Happiness, as many people would say, it’s not an end goal, it’s the travel itself. There is no finite moment when we can say “from now on I’ll be happy”. That is an instant in our lives.

If I had to answer, though, I’d search happiness in the slow, apparently boring and meaningless moments we live.
Those times when we’re not filled with tasks to do, things to achieve, goals to reach.

The times when you can focus on enjoying a moment, having a conversation, drinking with your family, taking a walk into the neighborhood with no goal set.
”The daily life, when life is not in the way”.
Those moments are the true beauty.

While I was writing this I also thought that an Haiku is also the perfect form of expressing this kind of beauty and that, maybe, they were just trying to answer the question themselves.
What is happiness?

we were depressed all along

2020. Covid Happened. We didn’t expect it.
With it everything changed. Our behavior, our distancing, our working, our friends.

We started seeing people differently. The world split into two main factions. But under that hood there was an even sadder truth.

I was reading a reddit topic on how quarantine changed for good and bad your life. Many people wrote in there, sharing their life experiences. It was full of life, of struggle, of fight and failures.

To me, covid allowed me to stay with my family and improve my overall fitness.
Being able to have so much more time for working out allowed me to improve a lot in areas I didn’t expect.

But my experience wasn’t the standard.
Many people stopped working out. Many people couldn’t keep up.

What did I do different? Nothing, that’s the truth.
What then made it possible for me to do something other couldn’t?

Well, what made impossible for them? This would be the question.
The answer? Depression.
I, too, couldn’t do many things.
Many people faked happiness.

The single moment of joy, the extreme playfulness, the going out with friends, allowed us to look away from our life, from the shadows we dive in.
Living in quarantine forced us to face them.
Not many were prepared, many failed, many others learned a lesson.

But all of us discovered that there was a little dark spot in our heart.
We didn’t have a clear name for it, we feared it and like a cancer we always hoped it wouldn’t happen to us.
Yet it was there all along.

Some have a darker spot, some a bigger one, some drowned into it, some drove through it, but we shared it all.
It’s our dark moment, the night when we think we can’t make it, the moment we say “It’s enough”.
The surrender, the failure, the acceptance that we can’t honestly do it.
Our dark spot, our depression was always there.

Quarantine uncovered it and we had to battle it.

When I look at all the failures in other people’s lives I don’t think I did better. I know for sure that I failed in other things.
We all tried to cover that black spot in the beginning. But it was strong.
In the end those failures are scars that tell a story of survival.

That’s what quarantine reminded us, that’s what it’s reminding still today.
To survive, in spite our dark spot.
In spite of the failures, of the hopelessness, in spite of the depression we all shared.

raise your voice

How can you make it easier for people to raise their voice? To stand up for what they believe?

Put them in a condition when they are not affected if they have something to say.
Otherwise you’ll always have enough power to control what they do or think.

If you’re the one in charge, you’ll likely think that you should always own the last words, but it’s not ok.

You can learn so much from the people around you. It’s only through humility you can accomplish more. And to do that you need to allow people to step up, to say what they believe.
People you trust, of course, but they shouldn’t be chained or worried about your reactions.
If they do, they’ll always avoid direct confrontation.

If you’re not allowing this kind of growth you should hope to have someone who’s vocal even if she has something to lose. Someone who’s near you that you can listen to.
Then, maybe, change can still happen.

over communication in a remote world

Lately I’ve been flooded with calls of any kind. Some useful, some useless.

Some organized, some with no foreseeable intent nor goal.

This made me realize that we live in a strange time. Meetings give you the overall idea that everything’s under control, but if we don’t write it down and if we don’t make this information searchable and findable, then it’s like not having it at all.

What great remote companies get right is the importance of written over communication.
We think the best way to align the entire team is with a quick call BUT if we write it down and we have systems and people that will read, the result will be that we can consume that information in a much better way.

Over communication might sound extreme to some, but it’s the starting point to have a decent remote team.

But what about being fast? you may ask.

What do you mean by fast? Do you mean to be able to react instantly to market change?
Isn’t that being reactive instead of proactive?

Fast should be about execution, efficiency, precision. Fast should be about the ability to execute a plan. A plan we defined before with slow times, taking the time that’s required to move on.

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